London-based oil major BP plc in its Energy Outlook for 2019 has projected India’s energy consumption rising by 156 percent between 2017 and 2040 and its energy mix evolving slowly, with dependence on fossil fuels falling from 92 percent currently to 79 percent by 2040.
India’s scientists, particularly those involved with nuclear energy development, have always given a serious consideration to the growth of the energy sector. They have consistently maintained that the relationship between per capita availability of energy and growth rates is intimate and essential.
Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting her second budget as India’s finance minister on 1 February, with energy security a key area of focus in budget proposals for 2020-21.
“As a country, India is committed to achieving energy security. I don’t subscribe to the view that nuclear power or energy security can ever be held hostage to budget-related allocations. Nuclear power, gas-fired plants etc., are areas that demand maximum priority from the government. Budget allocations will rise and fall depending on the requirements of the economy. One positive emerging out of the 2019-20 Budget was the removal of customs duty on raw materials and capital goods for nuclear power," Indian energy analyst Narendra Taneja told Sputnik.
Atomic energy will always remain an area of focus for India, as the country is not very well blessed in terms of oil, natural gas and other sources of energy, he added.
“Naturally, we will always be on the lookout for opportunities to expand our share in the global energy mix. Even though as a country we are keen on indigenous development of nuclear or atomic energy, there is a simultaneous effort to target every available avenue at home and abroad to achieve maximum possible potential in this field,” he added.
Taneja said while the long-term objective for India is to reduce dependence on energy imports, cooperation with other countries to achieve nuclear or energy security is non-negotiable.
Studies undertaken in India by premier nuclear research institutions such as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi which specialise in energy, environment and sustainable development have concluded that atomic energy is an effective and efficient medium for meeting the country’s developmental needs.
These studies have found that for any substantial rise in India’s standard of living in the long term, it is necessary to either import fossil fuels or increase the use of atomic energy.
In this regard, Taneja cited the outstanding example of nuclear energy cooperation between Russia and India.
He said this was a politico-economic relationship of very high quality, reflected by leaders of both nations – President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi – deciding during their annual summit in Vladivostok last year to jointly construct 20 more nuclear reactors over the next two decades, besides expanding cooperation in the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and nuclear fuel.
Currently, Russia has helped India build two nuclear power plants at Kundakulam in Tamil Nadu. A further two reactors at Kundakulam are under construction.
Kudankulam is expected to host six Russian manufactured VVER-1000 pressurised water reactors with an installed capacity of 1 GW each.